(WSYM) — The United States now has three vaccines, fewer than 50,000 hospitalized patients and a drastic drop in new cases since the start of the new year. While this is all good news, it’s important for people to not let their guard down.
It’s great news that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was approved over the weekend by both the FDA and the CDC. Distribution actually started last night. Nearly 4 million doses are being shipped to states and territories. Now the vaccines should start arriving Tuesday at select pharmacies and health centers. But it’s a limited supply right now. So it will not be available at every vaccine location. However, more will be delivered soon. Johnson & Johnson has been ramping up production and they expect to have 20 million doses delivered by the end of March. And 100 million by the end of June.
With our case numbers plateauing, there is a possibility that we might repeat history and face post-dip surges once again. We’ve seen this happen before, in the spring and summer last year. Restrictions were eased up and folks were eager to get out of the house. I get that, I also want life to get back to the way it was. But right now we are at a critical point. Case numbers have dropped and plateaued for most of the US, but here in Michigan, we’ve had a 6% increase over 14 days. So I’m concerned that people are thinking “hey, the numbers are down so that means I can get out and do more”. Or they might take more risks or ease up on safety precautions. And then, that little 6% increase starts to go up and up. But we have got to remember that we have new variants circulating in our communities. And they are more contagious and possibly more deadly. So please, now is not the time to ditch safety measures. Continue to social distance, avoid large gatherings, wear masks and wash hands often.
We really need to stop comparing Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine to Pfizer or Moderna’s. Yes, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine could help to save lives. Because no one who got their vaccine died in the trials. And it was found to be 85% effective in protecting against severe disease. As for health equity, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is a single dose. It’s refrigerated at normal temperature. So that makes it’s easier to distribute. Especially to people with limited healthcare access, like the homeless, those in the justice system, those who live in rural areas, and folks who are homebound. That’s the beauty of this single-dose – it makes it much easier to vaccinate people and keep them out of the hospital and the morgue.